Providence seeks to maintain momentum at Butler

NCAA Basketball

Providence seeks to maintain momentum at Butler

It would have been difficult for Providence to find a more dramatic way to win its Big East Conference opener.

Playing for the first time in 11 days, the Friars edged Seton Hall on Sunday when A.J. Reeves stroked a corner 3-pointer with three seconds left for an 80-77 overtime win in Newark, N.J. It was the seventh straight league win for the Friars, dating back to last season.

Providence (5-2, 1-0) aims for eight in a row Wednesday night when it opposes struggling Butler at Indianapolis in each team’s second Big East clash.

While the Friars try for an encore, Butler (1-3, 0-1) aims to start a new streak after an old one ended Monday night. The Bulldogs had won 59 consecutive nonconference home games, dating back to 2012, before Southern Illinois came into Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday and canned nearly 55 percent of its shots in a 76-73 victory.

Providence’s win over Seton Hall was sparked in part by 23 points and a career-high 11 rebounds from senior Nate Watson, who became the 51st player in program history to score 1,000 career points. But it was Reeves, who played just 21 minutes and tallied only seven points, who made the shot that mattered the most.

“I shoot that shot 1,000 times a day, so when I caught it, I knew I was going to make that shot,” Reeves said. “It was a telepathic thing between me and (David) Duke. I know if he’s driving baseline, I slide over to the corner to give him an outlet. He saw me that time.”

Duke made just 4 of 13 shots but still enjoyed an 18-point, 10-rebound game. Duke (19.4 points per game) and Watson (19.3) are combining for 51 percent of Providence’s offense.

It was the third straight loss for Butler since it returned to action last week following a three-week stretch without games due to COVID-19 issues. Coach LaVall Jordan was encouraged following the latest setback, citing the Bulldogs’ rally from an 18-point deficit to have a shot at a game-tying 3-pointer on the final possession.

“We had better poise in the second half and I’m really proud of the fight to get it to a one-possession game at the end,” he said. “Our young guys are learning in the game, and we’ll be better for it.”

Senior point guard Aaron Thompson (knee), who leads the team in scoring at 17.5 points per game, is questionable after missing the past two games.

–Field Level Media

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